Bairstow and Potgieter contest golf’s Amateur Championship final at Royal Lytham and St Annes

Englishman Sam Bairstow and Aldrich Potgieter from South Africa contest the final of The 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes today.

By Gazette Reporter
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 8:45 am

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Bairstow, 23, convincingly came through an all-English semi-final against John Gough by 5&4 to seal his place in the 36-hole showdown, while teenager Potgieter, 17, edged out Irishman Alex Maguire 3&1.

As well as winning one of the most prestigious titles in the amateur game, the victor can look forward to competing in The 150th Open at St Andrews next month, the 2023 US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.

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Sam Bairstow on the 18th as he earned a place in the final of the Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes

Sheffield’s Bairstow impressively won six holes in a row from the fourth, thanks to three birdies and errors from his opponent, to put the left-hander in full control.

Beaconsfield’s Gough had only lost one of his previous 24 match play ties and won the Lytham Trophy over the Lancashire links in May but his superb run came to a halt as the Hallowes member triumphed.

Bairstow came through Final Qualifying at St Annes Old Links to reach The 149th Open at Royal St George’s last year and is now just one match away from a quick return trip to golf’s oldest championship.

In windier afternoon conditions in front of large crowds, Potgieter eased to a three-up lead after eight holes against Maguire. But the Laytown & Bettystown player, winner of the East of Ireland Amateur last week, rallied after bogeys from the South African at the 9th and 11th.

Potgieter, who has won three times in his homeland this year at junior level, stayed strong to close it out on the 17th.

There have only been two previous winners of The Amateur Championship from South Africa – Jovan Rebula at Royal Aberdeen in 2018 and Bobby Cole at Carnoustie in 1966.

In the quarter-finals, Bairstow finished with a flourish to knock out Ludvig Åberg. The Swede – the third best player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Bairstow holed a 50-foot putt on the 17th for par and rolled in another 15-footer on the 18th for birdie to secure a two-hole success and go further than his last-eight appearance at Nairn last year, when he lost to eventual champion Laird Shepherd.

Gough was two down after six holes to Irishman Peter O’Keeffe but replied with birdies at the eighth and ninth and stayed strong on the back nine, finishing with birdies on the 16th and 17th for a 2&1 triumph.

Maguire had a tight quarter-final with Australian Max Charles, with never more than one hole in it. Charles won the 14th to go one up but he followed it with three straight bogeys as Maguire came through on the 17th 2&1.

Potgieter was a model of consistency as he reeled off pars to secure a five-up lead after 12 holes against Laurenz Schiergen. The German replied with birdies on the 13th and 16th but Potgieter closed out a 2&1 win.

Spectators without tickets can pay at the course today, while the R&A will provide a live stream of the final on its website and YouTube channel.